If you think my play on words is funny, you’re right! But if you’re stoked for the reconstruction of the currently sad-looking gym (the “ARC”), into super-rad, Double LEED Platinum certified,
gym wellness center coming to San Diego State in 2021-ish… you’re right-er 😉
Basically, in 2018 the student body barely decided to expand the ARC (by 51%) in 2018. Construction is going to be happening starting Spring 2019 and the space will be functional through all of construction.
I’m personally excited for this project because it’ll mean that SDSU has not ONE but TWO LEED Certified Double Platinum buildings. Our Student Union has the first Double-Platinum Certification on campus, but the new ARC is set to have the second.
If you don’t know what the heck LEED is, it’s basically a super-prestigious certification buildings can get for being environmentally friendly. It can be earned in quite a few ways and at a few different levels.
I was lucky enough to have multiple representatives from the planning company (Smithgroup) / on-site advisors from SDSU come talk to a sustainability club I’m involved in on campus. They highlighted all the green features they’d be using including advanced solar technology, natural light enhancement, and design elements to make the space not only more sustainable from an environmental perspective, but also from a social perspective. The new ARC is highlighting wellness (which has a huge environmental component), instead of mere fitness.
Me, being a sustainable food nut (along with quite a few others in the club) have to be pondering the question…
“WHAT ABOUT THE DINING FACILITY LOCATED IN THE ARC?“
Considering livestock and their byproducts cause 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions… Should a plant-based menu be considered in this uber-sustainable building? Plus, with such a strong Campus Grown Initiative on campus, couldn’t that be a part of this super-green building’s eatery, too? More importantly, how can LEED points be earned for doing these things so the changes can actually happen?!Well, after some (deep, deep) digging…
HOW LEED POINTS CAN BE EARNED FOR SUSTAINABLE FOOD:
Basically, you can get a point for purchasing food locally or from sustainable sources (ie. USDA organic, Marine Stewardship Council’s Blue Eco-Label, etc.)
This credit gives a point to project that support neighborhood farms/ gardens and specifically, gardening innovations in schools that exist around areas where students “congregate.” I think our Campus Grown initiative could do some great work here!
(At first this was all I could find… I was slightly disappointed. So then I called the national office and asked outright what our options were for getting points for a plant-based restaurant. Turns out, it’s totally a thing! )
INNOVATION CREDIT (so exciting!)
The nice LEED employee on the phone told me that this credit is basically a free-for-all for people that have super cool ideas that LEED just doesn’t know how to put into an official “point” yet. We can apply to INNOVATE to get a point!
After even more pipe-dream LEED veggie-friendly restaurant research… I found someone who’s done it! The exact thing! And they exist only 30 minutes away. UCSD is a magical place.
“Roots” is an all vegan restaurant located on the University of California, San Diego campus. With the help of knowledgable faculty and involved students, they were able to successfully get a point of LEED credit for choosing to have a vegan-eatery instead of a normal one.
Just by sourcing correctly and only having only plants on the menu- TWO automatic extra points!
With demand for plant-based proteins expected to double by 2024 and the vegan population in the United States increasing by 600% since 2014, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea for San Diego State to invest in a plant-based menu- especially in a health conscious space like the ARC where people who are concerned about their lifestyle and health are bound to be (and it gets them easy LEED points).
As the referendum for the ARC continues to move forward, potential candidates for the spot of who-gets-to-occupy-the-resturaunt-space will emerge. Ultimately I predict that there’ll be pushback from all sides (students, companies, contractors… everyone!) but the bottom line is about the ability of students, faculty, and industry (both Aztec Shops and contractors) to work together in order to achieve desired LEED certification while have student voices heard (and remain in-budget, of course).
I’m so excited that to see that this project is in good hands, and hopeful that all parties can work together for the best solution for the students, the planet, and SDSU’s pocketbook.